Friday, July 24, 2015

Stampeding to Sarteano: Ireland

by Sherrie Talgeri and Jack Lennard

The Galway Grindylows and MDI Misfits are currently the only active teams in Ireland after a concerted effort in 2012 to set up teams. The nascent Quidditch Ireland will be looking to promote growth going forward and finally begin to set up regular matches between multiple Irish teams. The only previous interaction between Quidditch Ireland and the rest of the world was a match at the inaugural British Quidditch Cup in 2013, where the Galway Grindylows proved a fan favourite, managing to seize a victory against the Norwich Nifflers. Quidditch Ireland will be hoping to bounce back from the dissolution of the one of the only other teams in Ireland, Dublin City University (DCU), and the lack of interest in the All Ireland Quidditch League (a regular competitive event, previously between the Grindylows and DCU, though not played with IQA-recognised rules). The birth of a third team, the MDI Misfits (so named after Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin) has allowed them to form a mixed team to represent the Emerald Isle in Sarteano this summer, and this could be the much-needed spark for quidditch in Ireland.

The logo of Quidditch Ireland.

The Squad
Rebecca McLaughlin (Taxes Quidditch)

Rebecca O’Connor (Galway Grindylows)
Oliver Gallagher (MDI Misfits)
Pierce Brosnan (Keele Squirrels)
Conor Ó Droichid (MDI Misfits)

Áine Kilbane (Galway Grindylows) - Captain
Michael Crampton (Galway Grindylows)
Ben Middlemiss (St Andrew’s Snidgets)

Team Ireland’s roster has been in a constant state of flux, with multiple dropouts. However, despite only fielding eight players, it is not the smallest squad at the European Games. The squad may lack cohesion as the players have been unable to all train together, however, this will improve once they have played a few games together.

Whilst this may not be enough to save them from elimination, the presence of some incredibly experienced players, such as Rebecca McLaughlin, will make up for the isolation from larger quidditch events that some of the rest of the squad have suffered due to the fractured history of the sport in Ireland. McLaughlin’s experience will prove invaluable, given that many players on the Irish team are untested on the international stage. Including a year abroad in the United States, they have played for three years and have attended 28 tournaments, notably the 2014 Global Games for that year’s incarnation of TeamUK, and their tactical knowledge is rightly respected on the international stage.

Furthermore, the squad has many versatile utility players such as Michael Crampton, Pierce Brosnan, McLaughlin, and Oliver Gallagher, which will add flexibility to the roster and ease substitution pressure. The team will also be able to learn and grow in all areas of the game, as the more prominent seasoned players, both on the Irish team and from other squads, will certainly give them a weekend of intense learning.

Stamina is key as Ireland will not have the luxury of resting players for a significant length of time. TeamUK alternate Ben Middlemiss will certainly be able to rise to this challenge, and his aggressive beating will create many opportunities for the Irish team to score hoops despite increasingly tired legs.   

The Irish team is unlikely to make it out of pool play due to its small squad size and lack of synergy. Making it to the European Games is an achievement in itself, so Team Ireland should be pleased with the opportunity to represent its country and learn from its experience. However, on the whole, scheduling has been kind to the team – Ireland will have the opportunity to rest for at least two hours in between three of its four games on Day 1, so all is not lost. Belief, clever tactical use of its strengths, and sheer determination could mean possible wins for the Irish team against Germany and the Netherlands, its closest competition. Although this scenario would probably end in a swift defeat at the hands of the French (the favourites to win Pool B), the luck of the Irish may just be with this team.

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